Front Matter The Name of My City My Own Name Why We Went to London Bound for America On Board Ship Unknown Country The End of the Voyage Going Ashore Our First Shelter A Tedious Task Our Cave Home Completed How We Kept House Savages Come to Town What the Savages Wore Game in Plenty Sea Food News of the Factor Arrival of the Amity Going to Meet the Factor A Tiresome Journey Meeting Old Friends Roasting Turkeys Turning an Honest Penny A Place for the City Building the City A Bear Hunt The New Home Penn's Care for Colonists The First Baby How the Indians Live Indian Utensils and Tools Canoes of Bark Making Wampum The Beehive Huts Finishing the Cure Starting a Fire Cooking Indian Corn News of Penn's Arrival Our Humble Preparations The Welcome to Penn A Day of Festivities Penn Joins in the Sports More Serious Business What a Bake Oven Is Baking in the New Oven Penn Plans to Buy Land Penn and the Indians The Price Paid for Land Gratitude of the Indians Trapping Wild Turkeys New Arrivals Government by the People The Promise of a School Dock Creek Bridge The Nail Business Buying Iron in New York No Merrymaking after Dark Busy Days Enoch Flower's School End of Our School Days Settlement of Germantown New Laws in Our Own Town A Division of Opinion A Matter of History Boundary Lines The Governor's Following A Proud Departure The Settlement of Chester Dining in State Anchored off New Castle An Uncomfortable Night A Dull Journey In Lord Baltimore's City A Splendid Home A Question of Duty Amy of Maryland The Shops of Maryland The Result of the Visit Philadelphia Progresses Penn Goes Back to London

Stephen of Philadelphia - James Otis

Starting a Fire

There is one thing these Indians can do which Jethro and I fail in every time, and certain it is we have tried very hard to accomplish what seems exceedingly simple.

You know how difficult it is, when you are in a hurry, or your hands are numb with cold, to get a spark from flint and steel. Again, you may have succeeded in striking fire at the first blow, only to find that your tinder was damp, and refused to be fanned into a blaze.

Well, these Indians do not use a flint and steel when they want to start a fire; but contrive to do it by whirling a pointed stick in a bit of wood. I have taken particular notice that they always have a piece of very dry pine, sufficiently large to be held on the ground by their knees, and that a tiny hollow has been scraped in it, with the fine particles of wood, or dust, allowed to remain in the hole.

Then a long, well-sharpened stick, something after the fashion of an arrow, is held with the point resting amid the wood dust, and, holding the top between his hands, which are held with the palms together, the Indian twirls that around until you can see a tiny thread of smoke arise, when a blaze speedily follows.

[Illustration] from Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis

It seems like a very simple matter to twirl that stick until the wood becomes heated to the point of burning; but Jethro and I have tried it an hundred times without being able to come any nearer a fire than heating the dust fairly warm, and yet there isn't an Indian boy in either of the villages who can't do the trick without seeming to work very hard.